Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 October 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Qatar 'under-reporting Covid-19 deaths for fear of losing World Cup'

Researchers raise concern that Covid-19 was not recorded as cause of infected workers’ deaths

Construction work under way at a World Cup 2022 stadium in Doha, Qatar. Getty
Construction work under way at a World Cup 2022 stadium in Doha, Qatar. Getty

Qatar has been under-reporting Covid-19 deaths for fear of putting the Fifa World Cup it is due to host in jeopardy, risk consultants studying the country’s health response said.

A building company in Qatar raised concerns that its staff, who died after being infected with the coronavirus, were not being recorded as victims of Covid-19, Fox News said, quoting Cornerstone Global Associates in London.

Figures published by Worldometer show Qatar, which has a population of about 2.8 million, has recorded 126,498 total cases with 216 deaths and 123,475 recovered.

Cornerstone’s health experts said they “questioned the reliability of the Qatar death figures, as a mortality rate of 0.17 per cent seems grossly underestimated”.

Qatar has also faced heavy criticism over the treatment of labourers building the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup.

In August, Human Rights Watch detailed how efforts to end abuse of foreign workers in the country had made little practical difference despite Doha pledging in 2017 to meet international labour organisation commitments.

“Ten years since Qatar won the right to host the … Fifa World Cup 2022, migrant workers are still facing delayed, unpaid and deducted wages,” said Michael Page, deputy Mena director at Human Rights Watch.

“We have heard of workers starving due to delayed wages, indebted workers toiling in Qatar only to get underpaid wages and workers trapped in abusive working conditions due to fear of retaliation.”

Updated: October 5, 2020 12:26 AM

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